As human beings, we’re always striving to be better. The most common self-improvement goals people set, particularly this time of year, are things like losing weight, improving our cholesterol numbers or blood pressure, or getting in shape for a marathon. These are body goals. They are concrete and easy to understand. Because we have metrics to measure things like weight loss, for example, it’s easy to track our progress and stay motivated.
Making “soul resolutions” is more challenging. These are the deeper aspects of self-growth. These would be things like trying to be less critical, more loving, more patient, or more optimistic. Soul resolutions are not so easy to measure.
And that can be a problem. Too often, when it comes to changing profound aspects of our attitudes, behavior, and character, we can get bored, uninspired, and discouraged after a while. We can’t really tell sometimes if our efforts are “paying off.”
To avoid the boredom of spirit that sometimes accompanies profound changes you’re trying to make on yourself, here are some simple strategies for staying motivated.
Check in with your priorities. What’s really important in your life? This is a question that will get you back on track quickly. Make changes in how your spend your time so that you can keep strengthening the behaviors that will reinforce your soul resolutions.
Learn from the discomfort. Trying to be a better person is challenging, difficult, and uncomfortable. It can even be painful and cause you to suffer — particularly if you have to do things like apologize, change your friend group, or do a lot of self-examining. When things get hard to take, embrace the discomfort and ask yourself what it’s teaching you.
Laugh and play more. It can be boring and tedious to be always working on self-improvement. Add pleasurable, fun activities to your life. The more you laugh, the better you’ll feel. Laughter is good for the soul, and an important antidote to all your hard work.
Go easy on your expectations. There are times when you might think you should have already attained a particular goalpost, yet find that you’re still struggling to get there. Instead of becoming impatient with your journey, make whatever it is you’re doing in the now be the priority, instead of focusing on the end result. Let your present state be exactly where you want to be for the moment, and find fulfillment in it.
Self-reflect every day. Staying on track with transformations of the soul are most easily seen by reflecting on one’s day-to-day actions. Were you kind in your interaction with a family member today? Did you stop and change a limiting thought into a supportive one when you felt doubt yesterday?
Be grateful. When we give thanks and feel gratitude, our soul is free to live. You can always find at least one thing to be grateful for. Gratitude is the “fix” for boredom and discouragement while you’re on the road to becoming a better person.
Make working toward changes of your soul a daily practice. This is one way to redesign who we are from the inside out.